Senators Reintroduce Equal Rights Amendment

April 3, 2019, 9:22 AM HST (Updated April 3, 2019, 9:22 AM)
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Last week, Sens. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai‘i), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and 20 of their Senate colleagues reintroduced the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which would guarantee equal rights regardless of sex, according to an April 3, 2019, press release from the Office of Sen. Hirono.

“Passing a constitutional amendment that guarantees full equality on the basis of sex is long overdue,” Sen. Hirono said. “Women have made long strides toward equality since I first entered public service more than 30 years ago, and while we have made great progress, we are not done fighting yet. Under the current administration, we have faced an extraordinary number of attacks that would limit women’s access to affordable, accessible healthcare, roll back workplace protections and opportunities, and ignore economic issues that disproportionately affect women, such as the gender wage gap and unpaid family and medical leave time. It is time that our country recognize the full political, economic and social equality of all women, and pass the Equal Rights Amendment.”

“Throughout the past two years, the Trump Administration has ignored the gender wage gap; attempted to block access to affordable, quality reproductive healthcare; and has appointed right-wing judges who have been groomed by conservative think tanks who seek to roll back time,” Sen. Menendez said. “The Equal Rights Amendment was first passed nearly 50 years ago and, while we have made great strides in forming a more equal and just society, we have recently found ourselves having to fight the same old battles to keep the clock from turning back. Now more than ever, we must formally codify in the U.S. Constitution that women are entitled full equality under the law, and I won’t stop fighting until that day comes.”

“Equal rights for women means ensuring access to reproductive health care, equal pay, and freedom from pregnancy-based discrimination,” Sunu Chandy, legal director for the National Women’s Law Center, said. “The NWLC supports having additional attention paid to the on-going sex discrimination faced by so many—that this work to pass the ERA will provide. Including equality based on sex, explicitly as part of the U.S. Constitution, will highlight to everyone in this nation and beyond that the fight for women’s rights must continue until these rights are a reality for all of us, including women of color, immigrant women, poor women, women with disabilities and LGBTQ individuals.”

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The ERA states: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex—the ERA establishes within the United States Constitution the unambiguous and unassailable rights of women under the law.”

The first version of the ERA was introduced by suffragist Alice Paul in 1923. While a version of the ERA passed Congress in 1972, it fell short of the constitutional requirement that 38 states ratify the amendment. Currently, the U.S. Constitution does not contain any explicit protections guaranteeing equal rights for women.

In addition to Senators Hirono and Menendez, the ERA is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Jackie Rosen (D-Nev.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

The full text of the bill is available here.

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